On March 3rd, CGE met with the OSU administration for the last of three bargaining sessions for winter term. (Due to finals and schedules changes, we’ll not meet again until spring term.)

The administration gave us their final initial proposal, on fees. Essentially, it will do nothing next year, but in the 2011-2012 year, the administration is offering to roll the Technology ($105) and Registration ($11) fees into tuition along with all departmental fees. This proposal is positive; however, their overall fees proposals, when paired together, are regressive for everyone but engineers, since they earlier proposed also rescinding the $300 per-term fee differential. Specifically, under the administration’s combined fee proposals, grad employees in Engineering would see a net gain of about $240 per term (before tax), while everyone else would see a net loss of about $190 per term.

Fortunately, the administration appears to have no intention of cutting the funding behind the $300/person per-term, and seems rather to wish simply to allocate it in a different form than the fee differential. In the coming weeks, our goal will thus be to work with the administration’s team to determine a way to reallocate these funds in a way that overcomes the regressiveness of their proposals on fees. In other words, we want to come out of these negotiations with an agreement that benefits all grad employees at the cost of none.

This work cannot be CGE’s alone though, and we let the administration know that we expect them to come to the next meeting with a comprehensive economic proposal that indicates areas where they might be willing to make economic changes that benefit all grad employees in the end.

A second item on the agenda for this meeting was for CGE to respond to the administration’s proposal on Article 8 – Union Rights. Essentially, they originally proposed that a) OSU would stop deducting dues for Associate Members; b) CGE should change the language on our membership card authorizing dues deductions (though they would refuse to clearly tell us how); and c) members would have to re-sign union membership cards every time they leave and re-enter the bargaining unit.

On (a), we pointed out that we consider Associate Members union members and not just donors. They had apparently never considered that possibility. We also pointed out that as we understand ORS 292.055, state employees can authorize a deduction to a union regardless of bargaining unit status. They promised to take a look at the information we provided them and get back to us. On (b), we’re still waiting for them to actually clarify what’s wrong with the current language, and on (c), we suggested that if the underlying problem is the complexity of deducting so many different dues amounts from people – which is what they told us was the problem they are trying to solve with their proposals – we could just move everyone into the BU and that would really simplify everything. They weren’t too enthusiastic about that suggestion, but it does solve the problem they told us they have more effectively than their proposal.

The final significant thing to note about this bargaining session was that, unlike the previous session, the administration’s team was far more polite and respectful. This may be attributable to the large contingent of grad employees who showed up to observe the entire meeting, despite several lengthy caucuses. Regardless of the reason for the administration’s friendly behavior, our team certainly appreciates it and hopes they continue to behave that way for the duration of bargaining.

We’ll have another session early in spring term. When we schedule it, we’ll let you know when and where it will be.

*The title of the post refers to this, in case you were wondering.

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